The seasons control what to do in Stavanger. Stavanger has a maritime climate, with cool summers and mild winters. Summers features periods of warm and nice weather, although they sometimes can be rainy. Winters usually mean more rain than snow in Stavanger, although going into the mountains will ensure snow.
Stavanger Town Square in front of the dome churchThe Stavanger Oil Museum is a very interesting building with fascinating information on Norway's oil industry. Displays of submersibles, drilling equipment, a mock oil platform, and audio-visual presentations make for a good few hours. The museum caters for all ages and is open 10:00-16:00 (Sundays and June-August 10:00-18:00).
The Canning Museum may not seem like the most interesting place to visit but it is a surprisingly good little museum with a lot of hands-on exhibits.
Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger) is a well preserved slice of Norwegian history. Old winding streets and wooden houses are representative of accommodation from Stavangers days as a the canning capital of Norway. Most houses in Old Stavanger are privately owned and well kept.
A good place for a photo opportunity are the Three Swords (Sverd i fjell, literally Sword in Mountain), a monument outside the centre of Stavanger, beside the Hafrsfjord. The swords themselves are massive and in the background is the fjord. The monument commemorates the battle of Hafrsfjord in the late 800's where Harald Hårfagre beat his eastern opposition and became the first King of Norway.
Sculptures - In 2000 the mobile installation Another Place by British sculptor Anthony Gormley was placed on and off Sola beach. A few years later a new and permanent installation Broken Column, by the same artist, was placed at various locations surrounding the centre of Stavanger.
The Rogaland Kunstmuseum (art museum) is on Mosvatnet Lake, only 2 km from the city center. The museum has a permanent exhibition of Norwegian art, and a rotating exhibition that is sometimes quite spectacular. Be sure to see the Lars Hertervig paintings; you'll see the landscape of the islands just north of Stavanger reflected in his work.
Stavanger Cathedral (romanesque style from about 1125, with later gothic additions) is the best preserved medieval cathedral in Norway and well worth a visit. edit
Hiking and climbing around Stavanger is the best way to see the fantastic landscape. Many of the trails have been marked out by the Turistforetning with rocks bearing a red "T". Turistforening hyttes (cabins) provide simple accommodation in the mountains. Also mountain bikes can be hired and taken on the trails.
Solastranden (Sola Beach) is a long sandy beach by the airport. It is very popular in the summer and allows for some small waves for surfing. Along the beach, in the dunes, are the remains of defences from the 1940-45 occupation. Other less populated beaches are all along the coastline although they are sometimes hard to find.
Ice skating on Stokkavannet - In the depths of winter the government tests the ice on its lakes. Once the official word is given many Norwegians will head for the largest lake, Stokkavannet. The lake itself is located near to Madla about 20 minutes bus ride outside of Stavanger. Should the ice not be safe, and you have a compulsion to skate, another option is to visit the Siddishallen, an indoor ice-rink.